Appalachian Trail: Swatara Gap & Mountain Ridge

Shuttle • 11.1 mi • 0 ft

Swatara Gap, where Pennsylvania has had plans to build a park over an old coal strip mine for twenty-eight years, s finally getting graded and planted and roaded and signed. It's nature but it's too new, like landscaping without shade or character in a just-built suburban subdivision. Except for the bridge. In the graceful style of another century, the Waterville Bridge carries the AT over Swatara Creek on curving, pale green, wrought-iron trusses and under ornate, pointed spires. Built by the Berlin Iron Bridge Co., of East Berlin, Conn., in 1890, the bridge spanned Little Pine Creek at the town of Waterville until 1986, when increased traffic heading for Little Pine State Park and Pine Creek Gorge, known as "the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania," required its replacement. It was scheduled for demolition, but the state's environmental agency intervened, moving it 75 miles south to Swatara. It is a fine example of the lenticular-truss (lens-shaped) bridge, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its use as an AT footbridge spans more than Swatara Creek, appropriately carrying the trail from some of the youngest rocks it crosses in Pennsylvania (300 million years old on Stony Mt. and in Rausch Creek Valley to the south) to some of the oldest (over 430 million years old on Blue Mountain to the north).
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Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Lebanon
Length: 11.1 total miles
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Trail Type: Shuttle
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: 6 hours
Trailhead Elevation: 450 feet
Top Elevation: 1,460 feet
Local Contacts: Appalachian Mountain Club, 617-523-0636
Local Maps: KTA PA Section 6
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